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Hawks coach Budenholzer meets with Suns

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer met with Suns officials on Tuesday about their head coaching position, a person with knowledge of the meeting confirmed. ESPN reported that Budenholzer and Suns management also met on Monday. 

Budenholzer did not respond to messages seeking comment. 

A hiring decision by the Suns doesn’t appear to be imminent. 

In addition to Budenholzer, the Suns also plan to interview former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale for the position this week, azcentral.com reported. The Grizzlies fired Fizdale in November. 

A league source said the Suns also are interested in Steve Clifford, who was recently fired by the Hornets, and Spurs assistant James Borrego.

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Budenholzer is under contract with the Hawks for two more seasons and about $14 million. When granting the Suns permission to speak to Budenholzer last week, the Hawks indicated that he would not be released from his contract without compensation. 

Doc Rivers left the Celtics to become Clippers coach under similar circumstances before the 2013-14 season. At the time, Rivers had three years and $21 million remaining on his contract. As compensation the Celtics received an unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 draft from the Clippers, which ended up being the No. 28 overall. 

The Suns have extra first-round picks in three future drafts: 2018 unprotected, (via Miami), 2019 lottery-protected (via Milwaukee) and 2021 unprotected (via Miami) 

Budenholzer, 48, is a native of Holbrook, Ariz. He has been Hawks head coach for the past five seasons after spending 17 seasons as a Spurs assistant. After qualifying for the playoffs in each of Budenholzer’s first four seasons the Hawks were 24-58, last in the Eastern Conference, in 2017-18. 

The Hawks hired general manager Travis Schlenk in May 2017, soon after Budenholzer resigned as the team’s top basketball executive. Schlenk began shedding the roster of high-priced veterans and rebuilding it by acquiring draft picks, young players and flexibility under the salary cap. 

The Hawks posted a franchise-record 60 victories during the 2014-15 season, when Budenholzer was named the NBA’s coach of the year. The Hawks concluded that season with their first Eastern Conference finals appearance since the franchise moved to Atlanta before the 1968-69 season.

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